“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” ~Leonardo da Vinci
There’s a funny thing with us humans.
We spend our lives trying desperately to find happiness, and yet we don’t even know what it is. We can’t explain, describe, or define it. We just know that we want it because it’ll make everything peachy. Studies have repeatedly shown us that the constant pursuit of happiness can often lead to our misery.
It is futile to try and find happiness. It was a hard truth to accept. For me to realize that happiness is not something I could find, I had to go through a string of severe depression episodes, my dad’s sudden death, moving across the country, heartbreak, and hours of reading self-help rubbish.
It suffices to say that you won’t find me dejectedly seeking answers or chasing after the abstract. I will not be on an endless quest for happiness.
Because of my fascination and work as a coach and my constant desire to be more visible, I found myself in the Psychology of Happiness Certification Program, which Dr. Tal Ben Shahar, best-selling author, created for me.
The following questions were asked during the programme:
Was it the most joyful time of your entire life?
Was there anything you did during this period that was so great?
Are you looking for more joy?
The first two questions proved to be the most difficult. But the more I scanned through my mental scrapbook, the more I kept thinking about the months betWeen ninth and tenth grade—my last romp as a camper at the sleepaway camp I’d been going to for six consecutive summers.
It wasn’t so much what I did—or what we did—that made it so good. Perhaps it was because of what we did. didn’t do.
No smartphones were available. No screens to gaze at, no calls made, messages to be checked, and no notifications were sent.
Social media was absent. Facebook was not a place for ranting, Twitter was not a platform to troll, and there were no fake Instagram influencers who could stir up insecurity.
We weren’t constantly comparing ourselves to others while looking at the carefully curated highlight reels from their lives.
No, we were making our own highlight reels in the middle of nowhere—or, more accurately, in the middle of northern Wisconsin. We hadn’t the slightest idea what anyone else was doing, and we didn’t care.
It was not possible to use dating apps or swipe at heads for long periods of time. Ghosting, haunting and zombieing were all absent. There was also no submarining or breadcrumbing. These hyper-specific subtypes of appalling human behavior simply didn’t exist.
Even with our hormones raging, there wasn’t any sense of despair. You either “hooked up” with someone the night before or you didn’t. Then you went on with your day.
It didn’t matter who the president was. The only thing we knew was that it was some white, old man just like the previous year. The man sat down in his office and signed papers. Maybe he spoke with the country once every three months.
There was nobody on the far left trying to ruin the life of anyone who’s ever made a mildly offensive quip. The far right did not try to create a white ethnostate or accelerate the conflict. No conspiracy theorists tried to convince the public that celebrity pedophiles operate out of pizza shops or that Jewish people crisscross America to ignite space lasers.
Tony? Oh! You might even be thinking of yourself. Those were the people who existed back then. I have no arguments.
We never heard back from them. They didn’t have public platforms. It was not possible to access 24/7/365 news, online magazines or YouTube. They kept their wild ideas and opinions to themselves.
It’s no wonder that one of the happiest periods of my life was the summer of 1997, in the middle of nowhere in northern Wisconsin. All of our time together was spent outdoors singing, playing frisbee and laughing.
One could theorize that we were happier purely because we were kids, but I’m not so sure. According to my observations, today’s children are distracted and lost. Most of them spend their day indoors and are glued to their phones. Overstimulated and sensitive, they are also overprotected. Their psychological problems stem from growing up in technologically-driven worlds.
Twenty-five years ago, during the summer of 1997, life was just…simpler.
That’s what made it so good.
And I don’t think that life in general will ever be that simple again.
But every time I simplify my own life, even just a little bit, I’m a little bit happier.
Every time I de-clutter, I’m a little bit happier.
Every time I delete a dating app, I’m a little bit happier.
Every time I forgo watching the news or sign off social media, I’m a little bit happier.
Every time I turn my phone on Do Not Disturb, I’m a little bit happier.
Every time I have a real conversation in real life with a real person I really care about, I’m a little bit happier.
Every time I go outside and walk around and do nothing but look at the sky, and the trees, and the architecture, I’m a little bit happier.
Every time I sit in silence and meditate and let my thoughts pass by like the weather, I’m a little bit happier.
What can you do to create happiness in your daily life?
Well, I don’t have a whole lot of street cred. If I were to try, it would be: Quit doing things that are harmful. Unhappiness. Simplify, simplify, simplify. You might also consider a summer camp.
Tony Endelman can be described as a blogger, author and humorist. He is also a certified coach in transformational living, as well certified trainer for happiness. He lives currently in New Orleans. Tony can be reached via his website.
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Tiny Buddha published the post How to Be a Lot Happier – A Simple Solution.